Transportation Security Administration agents caught the 22nd gun of the year at a Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport security checkpoint Wednesday, tying last year’s total four months early, officials said.
Dustin Carl, 48, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was arrested when agents found a .32-caliber handgun loaded with eight bullets, including one in the chamber, in his carry-on bag in the checkpoint’s X-ray machine, according to Lisa Farbstein, a TSA spokeswoman. He told responding Maryland Transportation Authority police officers that he had forgotten the gun was in his bag, she said.
Carl was charged with possessing an unauthorized weapon in the airport screening area and wearing, carrying and transporting a handgun upon or about his person.
“As a reminder, individuals who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to possible criminal charges from law enforcement,” Farbstein said in a news release.
More than 4,239 guns, more than 11 a day, were discovered by TSA in carry-on luggage across the country last year — a 7% increase from 2017, according to TSA data. Nearly 90% of those were loaded, and more than one-third had a bullet in the chamber, the agency said.
An average of two dozen guns has been caught at BWI security checkpoints over the past three years, although the number has fluctuated. The agency caught 26 firearms at BWI in 2017, and 24 in 2016, Farbstein said.
Passengers can bring a gun with them on a flight, but it must be properly packaged in a locked, hard-side case, packed separately from ammunition and declared to the airline in checked luggage.
Even travelers with concealed-carry permits are not allowed to have a gun in their carry-on luggage. A typical first-offense penalty for bringing a handgun into a security checkpoint is $4,000, and the agency can level civil penalties on top of that, driving the potential cost as high as $13,333 for weapons violations.